Jonathan Barnes: The Somnambulist

Barnes’ first novel is promising, if less than entirely satisfying, and certainly not lacking in ambition nor scope. It’s set in a fantastic London peopled by flamboyant, unlikely charactersat the close of the 19th century. Several folk are Not As They At First Seem, including the narrator, who does, it should be noted, remark in the first chapter, “in the spirit of fair play, I ought to admit that I shall have reason to tell you more than one direct lie.” The titular Somnambulist remains an enigma throughout, and although The Somnabulist‘s many tall coincidences converge into the requisite big bang ending, I suspect sequels could well abound if the book finds favor in the market place.

I found myself wishing the book would commit to one tone or another. At times it seemed to be playing for broad laughs in a way that reminded me of Jasper Fforde’s “Thursday Next” books; at others it strained toward a darker, grittier mood. I didn’t find it fully convincing in either mode, and didn’t think they meshed very well.

needs more demons? Maybe. But I’m curious to see what Barnes writes next.

Published by therealsummervillain

likes: equality, making things easier to use, biking, jangle, distortion, monogamy dislikes: bigotry, policies that jeopardize people, lack of transparency

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